THE SEPARATION OF SCHOOL AND STATE
By Dr. Patrick Jonston
April 11, 2007
Charter Schools May Be An Unacceptable Compromise with the State-Controlled Education System
The new Democratic Governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland, has the Republican-dominated statehouse in an uproar over his proposal to eliminate funding for private “charter schools” in the state budget. The Ohio budget has previously allowed children in poor performing public school districts to apply for state funds to be directed to a private charter school on their behalf. Even Christian schools have been able to compete with public schools for state funds to educate children.
The argument for charter schools is convincing: many charter schools have a proven superiority over public schools intellectually and financially. In short, you get a higher quality education for less state money. Introducing competition into public education can only be good for the children and for the taxpayers.
The argument against charter schools is as follows: granting state funds for private Christian schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. It also takes desperately needed funds away from the public school systems where the funds are needed the most: in poor-performing districts.
In short, the introduction of private charter schools into the public education field of competition is good for the taxpayers and the students, whereas maintaining the monopoly of government-controlled public education over the state treasury is good for the teacher’s unions. We know where Ted Strickland’s loyalties lie.
The problem with the deterioration of public education is not a financial problem. Our nation spends more per child for public education than any other civilized society and we are ranking dead last among industrialized nations in science and math. I live in Zanesville, Ohio, and the cost of Zanesville’s public education system is twice the average cost of a private school in Ohio ($9200 annually per child in Zanesville versus $4500 annually per child in an Ohio private school). Even public school superintendents wouldn’t freely give their own money for a Zanesville public school for their own children if they had the choice [Read]. The problem with public education is not a lack of funds; it is who is doing the spending of it.
Parents love their children more than child development experts and state bureaucrats and have the God-given responsibility for the education of their own children. Parents would never have taken prayer, the Ten Commandments, and phonics out of school. Parents would never have brought condoms, atheism, acceptance of homosexuality, and “outcome-based education” into school - only bureaucrats could be so impervious to common sense. The cost, efficiency, and quality of the education of future generations will drastically improve if parents are at the helm. If we want to do what is best for the education of Ohio’s children and the rights of their over-taxed parents, we must break the state’s monopoly over public funds for public education. Parents must be free to educate their own children as they wish, without state interference and without state coercion of their wealth for a public education system to which they would not give willingly if they had the choice.
There are two million home-educated children and 5.9 million children educated in private school. Many of them have been dissuaded from the public education system because of the deteriorating intellectual quality. Others fear that evil company will corrupt the good morals of their children, as the Bible warns in I Corinthians 15:33. Others have withdrawn their children from the government-controlled education system because of moral objections to the curriculum and the prevailing moral standards in public schools.
Most parents, I have discovered, are woefully ignorant of the deteriorating moral conditions of public education. Government schools have become more and more captive to the leftist agenda of the socialists, homosexuals, feminists, earth-worshipers, and atheists [Read]. Public schools have become pulpits of humanism and liberal dogma. Science classes continue to propagate the myth of atheistic macroevolution in spite of the plethora of damning evidence against it. The federal courts have consistently upheld the government’s right to teach children, without parental permission or oversight, to accept homosexuality and practice “safe sex” like “mutual masturbation” and anal sex with a condom.
It was not always this way. Before 1962, prayers were prayed and the Bible regularly read in public schools. Congress approved the first publishing of Bibles in the U.S. in 1782, “a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools.” McGuffey’s Reader, the mainstay of public education from 1836 to 1920, primarily consisted of prayers to God, Scriptural references, and religious instruction to abstain from sin. One of our first educational bureaucrats, Noah Webster, said, “Education is useless without God and the Bible.” This sentiment is almost universal in the first generation of public schools in the United States. The anti-Christian sway of public education has been recent – only in the last thirty years has our nation abandoned the Bible as the basis of morality and adopted a counterfeit standard of atheistic humanism.
It is frequently repeated that teaching religion in schools violates the constitutional wall of separation between church and state. When Thomas Jefferson penned those infamous words “separation of church and state”, he did so in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in response to their concern that the Federal government would sponsor a particular denomination as the English government had done with the Anglican church and as the states had done with their preferred Christian denomination. Jefferson assured them that the federal government would not hinder the free practice of their religion. The same time that Jefferson wrote those words, however, he was superintendent of the school district of Columbia, and can you guess what the only required textbook was for all classes? The Holy Bible! Thomas Jefferson said, “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” In his endorsement of a separation of church and state, he never intended to imply that the public schools should not endorse and teach Christianity, but that the state would not hinder the free practice of religion. The separation of church and state, as it commonly taught, is a myth that has been fostered to preserve the government’s monopoly over the corrupt public education establishment, at the expense of our children’s minds and souls, and at the expense of the taxpayers’ wealth.
The Scripture asks, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” It is not a rhetorical question: if we discover that the foundation of our children’s public school are destroyed by termites or by rot, we must board up and abandon the dangerous building and build again upon a steadfast foundation. The government-controlled public education system is a tower built upon sand, intellectually and morally. Parents must assume their proper role as superintendents of our own children’s education and build that education upon the proper foundation.
Charter schools still allow the state to be in charge, and although this is a good step in the right direction because it allows some parents to direct the education of their own children and it allows some of these children to enjoy a Christian education, it is still an incomplete remedy in that it denies this choice to all taxpaying parents. If we want our children to flourish intellectually and morally for much less expense, we must have a separation of church and state and parents must assume their God-given role of superintendent of educator of their own children.
© 2007 Patrick Johnston - All Rights Reserved
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Patrick Johnston and his wife Elizabeth reside in Zanesville, Ohio, with their six young home-schooled children. Patrick is a family practice physician and founder of the Association of Pro-life Physicians, which is dedicated to restoring a remnant of physicians in our communities who are convinced that life begins at conception and who will not commit nor refer for abortions (ProLifePhysicians.org).
the Alliance to Reform Education Funding to fight public school levies
and promote Christian home-schooling (StopSchoolLevies.org).
He founded the Coalition for Justice for All to pursue justice for Ohio's
pre-born and to provide photo-documentary evidence on-line at StopColumbusKilling.net
of the abortionists and their accomplices at the abortion clinics of Columbus,
Ohio. Dr. Johnston is committed to revival in the church, and the restoration
of Biblical law and constitutional government in America.
The government-controlled public education system is a tower built upon sand, intellectually and morally. Parents must assume their proper role as superintendents of our own children’s education and build that education upon the proper foundation.